A Jar of Queer Feelings

star jarHello, Friends.  If you celebrated Christmas yesterday, I hope it was festive and fortifying.  Unless Santa brought you the Ethel Merman Disco Album, too, it probably wasn’t as fabulous and rhythm-driven as ours was, but take heart — if you feel your holiday lacked luster for want of an incredibly gay media project, I have just the digital chapbook for you:

A Jar of Queer Feelings was electronically published yesterday, with plans for print copies to take the world by storm in January.  As project director/founder/publisher Sarah Magdalena Love will tell you, “36 artists and writers have contributed to the first edition of this book series resulting in a collage of queer life that touches on various dimensions like family, sexuality, politics, gender and liberation through various art forms, personal essays and poetry.”  I mixed it up a little bit for this project and submitted a photo rather than a piece of writing, and one that captures life in this house at its gender-bending queerest, at that.  As you know (or can learn here), I had my own set of struggles around my husband’s entrée into his glam and glittery Drag Career, most of which stemmed from gender norms and expectations, both mine and my fears around “theirs.” (And subsequently from my shame and irritation at letting what “they” think impact my home life and my relationship here in my forties.)  I still don’t really kiss him when he’s got lipstick on, and I definitely don’t understand why anyone would volunteer to squeeze into pantyhose, but my fears and my shame have been wrestled to the ground, and I embrace each opportunity to celebrate new, feather-strewn layers of my husband’s fabulousness, and of our Big Queer Life together.  And so I’m especially pleased to be a part of a project that will donate all proceeds to Gendered Intelligence, a charity that believes, as my husband and I do, that “the arts are an amazing tool for sharing our stories, platforming our voices and building awareness around the ways in which heteronormativity regulates and restricts everyone.”

You can be like The Merm, who’s always doing something for the boys, and get your very own copy for US$3.30 here.

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Three French Hens

Three-French-HensThursday December 19th, Before I Go

My cousin and his husband founded and run Horse & Cart, a small theater company here in Denver with big ideas.  They write and produce original plays, they host an annual playwriting competition, they perform undiscovered work in unexpected places and generally “want to play in different locations while mixing theater up with music, dance, digital publishing, installations and filmmaking.” (From their website.)  Their latest flash of genius is a series called Live Anthologies, in which local actors present fresh, original works by writers from around town and across the country at Paris on the Platte, a venerated Denver coffee house and bar.  I’m madly in love with the premise, and when my cousin offered me a crack at one of the Twelve Days of Christmas for tonight’s holiday edition, I jumped at the chance.  I’ve actually always rather hated this particular Christmas Classic, except for maybe Miss Piggy and the Muppets’ version, but Three French Hens was one of my choices, and I figured how hard could it be?  At least I wouldn’t have to shoehorn eight girls with cows and buckets into some sort of storyline.

I grew up in a city, my grandparents lived in a condo — I don’t know if this is typical chicken behavior or not, but for a long time, those three French hens just sat there.  They clucked and pecked and got up to pretty much nothing; you know I love my writing prompts, but this one, if you’ll pardon the expression, was laying an egg.  Eventually a French boyfriend came along, and I really wanted the three hens to be his visiting Gallic mother and her two busy-body sisters — I even named them and got them as far as the Denver airport, where they sat expectantly clutching their little metaphorical purses, looking at me like, Well…?  I eventually followed my lifelong daydream fantasy of a big-nosed Parisian boyfriend to its logical conclusion, and we washed up on a farm in the Loire Valley with three feathered friends. Continue reading

New Holiday Release: The Gift of the Gay Guy

Gift Gay Guy CoverIf you’ve read any of my stuff — or seen any pictures of my husband — you know that I’m a fan of the Fat Guy.  I’m also kind of a pushover for the cheesecake centerfold-type Hot Guy in a Santa Hat, so the idea of crafting a short Holiday romance was an easy sell to me.  Heck, you put a twink in a mall in December, get some rakishly handsome broke dude who can fill the suit without a pillow a holiday gig in a fake beard, now you’ve got fat, hot, a Santa hat, and a cultural mandate for one guy to sit on the other’s lap — this shit writes itself.

Try as I might, though — and some days we go wander around the Cherry Creek Shopping Center and “try” just for want of something better to do — I couldn’t find Romance in the Mall.  Not on Santa’s lap, not in the parking lot, not even at Hot Dog on a Stick.  The rented felt suit and cottonball beard just weren’t doing it for me; I found Sweaty, and Stinky, but darned if I could find Sexy in there anywhere — this is probably part of why I hate Halloween.  But I do love Christmas — in flattering light and a cozy sweater it’s hard not to feel romantic — and I discovered that if you put the fat guy and the twink together at, say, an airport hotel, which has beds in it, that “holiday spirit” shortly bubbles to the fore.

Mind you, the fat guy — we’ll call him “Derrick” — is reticent to celebrate Christmas with his Appearances Are Everything Mom for the first time since his partner’s death three years ago, and the twink — we’ll call him “Lee” — is really more of a sticky-fingered mistake than any kind of prospect; Derrick surprises nobody more than his damn self when he shows up at his Family Christmas with Lee by his side, and when his cop brother Chad recognizes Lee from Once Upon a Time, Derrick feels more like a heel than any kind of man in love.  While Lee reveals a soft side, Derrick’s convinced he’s a hardened criminal, and he can’t help but worry: what if the next thing Lee steals is Derrick’s heart?

Find out today!  The Gift of the Gay Guy is 20% off at JMS Books — just $3.19 for your Kindle or your e-reader app on your tablet or phone.  It’s short, it’s sexy, and it’s kinda fun — just like a Google Image search of “hot guys in Santa hats,” but without quite as many random kitties.

And if Derrick and Lee ignite a sexy holiday spark in you, fan it with the other JMS Books December releases:

The Firefighter in the Snow | Vivaldi in the Dark | Bad Secret Santa | Yule Be in my Heart

Nowhere to Hide | Holy Xavier | Christmas Deception | And We Will Live Happily

Thanks, JMS Books!

Thanks, JMS Books!

“Happy Holidays”

flying santaThis is re-posted from last year.  Not to be boring, but I find that the topic will keep cropping up…

I bought my Christmas tie at Hong Kong’s Stanley Market ages ago for like two dollars, and have worn it to work (in strict accordance with my company’s uniform guidelines, I might add, cuz that’s how I roll) for the whole month of December pretty much ever since. We celebrate Christmas, but I am not a Christian, and my tie, as befits a Christmas tie from China, is very generic; no Jesus, no Santa, just a bunch of snowmen and gold star-topped trees. Mostly I wear a holiday tie because it is my one and only opportunity to vary the uniform that I wear every day. The very same uniform, come to that, that, at my broke-ass company, I’ve been wearing for my entire career. Lots of pilots wear them, too, and it’s fun, for two or three weeks, to start pre-flight briefings with a compliment, even one as bland as “Nice tie.”

When a passenger tells me, “Nice tie,” I used to say “Thank you. Merry Christmas,” figuring that if you were going to take the time to comment on my Christmas tie, then you were probably someone who celebrates Christmas, too. But lately, the Nice Ties have been delivered more and more with a certain sly tone that implies a knowing wink, and I have dropped the M.C., sticking with a bland and pleasant “Thank you.” While I hope the tie is able to impart a small amount of General Cheer on flights at a time of year when travel can be high-stress and hassle-full, I do not wish to be implicated in anyone’s personal, FOX-fueled war on the phrase Happy Holidays. Continue reading

Our Writing Group’s Tasty New Anthology

Tasty YearHas it been a tasty year for you?  It certainly has been for the members of my writing group, who, in all of our free time between the novels, Ph.D theses and live theater pieces that we’ve inspired and encouraged each other to produce, have also been stirring together the ingredients of Tasty Year: A Food Anthologywhich we are pleased to announce is now ready to enjoy!  Think of it as a paperback Crockpot, into which we each tossed an ingredient every month or so, simmering a seasoned blend of poems, haikus, essays and micro-fiction into a hearty stew of memories, discoveries, and brownie recipes that you can share with friends or gobble up in one sitting all by yourself.  (No shame in that game, we’ve all done it.  With books, I obviously mean…)

As writers and artists, we, the members of the Open Book Writing Group, have found that writing and art get us through some difficult times. And more than that, the creative expression brings a level of confidence, healing and fun to our lives.  Half of our net proceeds from this anthology will be donated to Art from Ashes, a Denver non-profit that seeks to empower youth through creative expression and personal transformation.

My February contribution is even about the Crockpot (we’re nuts about slow cookers, our group).  It’s 100 words about it being ridiculously freezing cold, like it’s been in Denver the last few days, and about how sharing a simple pleasure (like chili, or your good-lookin’ self in a cute-fitting sweater) is sometimes all it takes to chase away the chill.  I offer it up here as a little amuse-bouche (and, if you live in Colorado, to see if it helps warm you even a little bit on this freezingest night), and invite you to visit our blog, like our Facebook page, or find us on Amazon to dig into the complete anthology, for your Kindle or in paperback.

100 Word: Nothing Fancy

“I just did some chili in the crockpot,” he squeaks, chin down. “It’s nothing fancy.” It’s February, I almost had to cross country ski over here, the kitchen window’s steamed over and the whole place smells of slow-cooking cumin and crackling fire. My veins are packed with snow and my eyelashes are icicles — him in that green sweater’s all the “fancy” I need. Can of beans, hunk of meat, let’s eat. “I figured a ton of garlic was OK,” he’s saying. “Only person I’m planning on kissing is you.” And just like that, I’m warm inside before I’ve eaten a bite.